AURA and its US National Observatories

AURA and its US National Observatories

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Frank K. Edmondson
Cambridge University Press, 08/09/2005
EAN 9780521019187, ISBN10: 0521019184

Hardcover, 388 pages, 24 x 17 x 2.2 cm

A new source of funding for astronomy stemmed from the creation of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950. Astronomers were quick to take advantage of the opportunities this provided to found new observatories. The science and politics of the establishment, funding, construction and operation of the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) are here seen from the unique perspective of Frank K. Edmondson, a former member of the AURA board of directors. AURA was asked to manage the Sacramento Peak Observatory (SPO) in 1976, and in 1983 the National Solar Observatory (NSO) was formed by merging the SPO and the KPNO solar programs. In 1981 NASA chose AURA to establish and operate the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). This is a personal account of a period of major innovation in American optical astronomy.

' … this is an important document … major libraries should have a copy.' David Stickland, The Observatory

' … the work is one of substantial archival scholarship. There is a superb story here and someone will tell it … ' Jasper Wall, Astronomy Now

'Frank Edmundson's book … is well worth reading. The pioneers of the 1950s have left us a great legacy. It should be cherished and enhanced.' Geoffrey Burbidge, Astronomy and Geophysics

'We may surmise that, in the eyes of twenty-first-century historians of astronomy, twentieth-century astronomers have done well. They will be particularly grateful to Frank Edmondson for this outstanding contribution on the US national observatories. Adriaan Blaauw, Journal of History and Astronomy